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  • Women in Nepal

    Urban Settings

    Working with Refugees Engaged in Sex Work: A Guidance Note for Humanitarians


    Refugees engaged in sex work are little discussed within humanitarian circles; while there is some awareness that the practice is not uncommon, few know how to respond. The Women’s Refugee Commission developed this Guidance Note in partnership with the Organization for Gender Empowerment and Rights Advocacy (OGERA), a grassroots organization of refugee sex workers in Kampala, to raise awareness and initiate a conversation about how we strengthen protection and access to vital services for refugees engaged in sex work. The main audience of this Note is humanitarian actors operating at the global and field levels. This refers to staff working in health and protection and/or for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or one of UNHCR’s implementing or operational partners.

    The Guidance Note lays out 14 steps for taking a rights-based approach to working with refugees engaged in sex work, including:


    • Develop tailored referral pathways for legal, health, and support options for these refugees, as well as targeted programming that is based on existing evidence on 'what works' for strengthening protection and SRH for persons engaged in sex work.
    • Ensure refugees engaged in sex work have meaningful participation in the design and implementation of referral pathways and programming.
    • Know international standards relating to the rights of persons engaged in sex work, as well as recent evidence-based guidance and resources developed outside the humanitarian sector.
    • Build the skills and capacities of humanitarian actors to facilitate access to information and service options (e.g., GBV, SRH) for these refugees, and to do so in a way that reduces stigma, in accordance with existing nondiscrimination principles and individual-centered standards of care.
    • Identify and reach out to local, national, and regional organizations or service providers who have experience working with local sex worker communities, including sex worker-led organizations.

    Women's Refugee Commission at CSW61

    Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

    This year’s theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with an additional focus on empowering indigenous women.

    The sessions begin on Monday, March 13 and will run through March 24, 2017.

    Working with Refugee Women Engaged in Sex Work: Bringing a Peer Education Model and Mobile Clinics to Refugees in Cities

    Interventions for Strengthening GBV Prevention and Response for Urban Refugees

    In Kampala, the WRC partnered with Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), an organization that provides integrated SRH and GBV services to Ugandans, including Ugandan sex workers. The goal was to expand their services to be inclusive of refugee women. This case study outlines two different interventions that were conducted: (1) a free mobile health clinic that went to refugee neighborhoods and provided a range of GBV and medical services, and (2) a peer education program conducted with refugee women engaged in sex work in Uganda—both in Kampala and in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement—that was designed to address information, service, and support gaps affecting these women’s health and safety.

    Family Planning Saves Lives And Promotes Resilience In Humanitarian Contexts

    Globally, it is estimated that 128.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these individuals, approximately one-fourth are women and girls of reproductive age. Although family planning is one of the most life-saving, empowering, and cost-effective interventions for women and girls, it remains an overwhelming gap in emergency responses due to a lack of prioritisation and funding. Consequently, many women and girls are forced to contend with an unmet need for family planning and unplanned pregnancies in addition to the traumas of conflict, disaster, and displacement.